Rattan Lines

(Click any picture or link in this post to see the item in store.)

I saw a beautiful table in a Michael Amini advertisement for his Bella Cera dining room furniture that inspired this post. I was amazed at how it looked so down-to-earth and elegant at the same time.

The solid wood table had no tablecloth. Each place had a woven round place mat or charger. (There are square versions of these out there if you have square dinner plates.) Before you decide that I’ve fallen back a couple of decades, wait for the finished result!

Any of these chargers I found individually for around $10.00 looked cheap or like they might fall apart after several uses, except for this one for $10.99 from Crate&Barrel.

Rattan Placemat

I would suggest making the place mat/charger contrast with your table — as in light table, dark chargers or dark table, light chargers.

Most of these come in sets of four and the prices are comparable at common department stores. This dark brown rattan charger is from Kohl’s and comes in a set of four on sale for $35.99 (from $59.99).

Charge It 4-pc. Charger Plate Set

There are similar styles from Bealls (Round Rattan Charger Plate (Set of 4))
for $31.78, and Target for $32.49, or there are these chargers for $9.99 at hayneedle.com (sale price).

I really loved the look of these Round Madras Chargers from World Market. Again they are comparable in price as a set of four is $35.96. I love the contrasting colors and unique weave.

ROUND MADRAS CHARGERS

Pottery Barn also has a Paros Rattan Round Charger for $19.50 and a Tava Round Charger for $18.00 (sold individually) if you are looking for something a bit different.

Directly on top of these chargers were elegant plates. They appeared to be a blue floral pattern that matched the bowls sitting on top of them, but I envisioned instead solid white plates with a pattern around the rim. I love these Mikasa Dinnerware American Countryside plates for this look. They have little flowers scrolling around the rim. You can get them at Macy’s. (Click the image for a link to a closer look.)

Mikasa Dinnerware, American Countryside Dinner Plate

Next came the blue and white bowls. Again, I’m going to use my own inspiration here, but I think something like these Paula Deen Tatnall Street Blue Bell Soup Bowls would look really pretty here. (And wouldn’t you know it — they’re on sale!)

Tatnall Street Blue Bell Soup Bowls

(If you prefer the matching plates, there is a whole collection of coordinating items.)

The napkins are what really made this entire table look so charming. They were tucked slightly under each bowl, on top of each plate, and were clean and crisp but a bit rustic and rough around the edges. The ones in the ad appeared to be a soft pink or mauve, maybe even pastel purple color, which looked amazing and cheerful next to the blue in the bowls.

I really really like these purple napkins I found on Amazon, though I suppose you might want green, red or a peachy-orange for winter or fall. (And yes, these come in other colors!)

The table was decorated with plants, white votive candles and appetizers like a bowl of fresh-picked fruit, a loaf of bread on a wooden cutting board, and what appeared to be condiments like honey and jam. You can see the table by clicking the link in the first paragraph of this entry, but I am not going to post the original image because it had a sort-of European background and I want you to picture it in your own home, on your own table. I’m going to say it is “rustic elegance.”

I also ran across a couple more items that might be fun to add. How about some rattan coasters for cool drinks since there wasn’t a tablecloth? (The table was set with wine glasses in the ad.) A set of four is $12.95 at Pier1.

Rattan Coasters

And I don’t know … I just liked this Pfaltzgraff chicken canister. Normally I would avoid decorating with chickens but this just seemed to fit the theme somehow. Maybe because of the woven basket design on the bottom.  (It is labeled as a rooster. I disagree. I strongly believe this is a hen!)

Pfaltzgraff Dinnerware, Country Cupboard Rooster Canister

I’m thinking this table would look beautiful for any occasion but I can seriously picture it next to a homemade easter egg tree in the spring. You know — the kind with the blown egg shells, dyed by kids and hung on a tree branch with a piece of ribbon? Or how about with pale orange napkins and harvest decor for fall? Switch to gold embellishments with deep reds and greens and maybe an evergreen centerpiece and it would be a beautiful rustic or old-fashioned Christmas table. The beauty is that it is very versatile.

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Quilts – New Era, New Uses

How To Make an American QuiltMaking quilts these days is laughably different from the way my grandmother made them. First of all, these days the first step is to “choose your material/fabric.” No one in my family ever really did that. The material that made up the quilt came from old, worn out dresses, shirts, tablecloths, scraps leftover from making cloth items, you-name-it, that could no longer be used for its original purpose and was then cut into smaller pieces — specifically, quilt pieces.

Secondly, these days almost everyone is stitching with a sewing machine. There are definitely pros to making a quilt with a machine — for one thing it is just plain easier and faster, but it also means your stitches will all be uniform. However, hard-core old-fashioned hand quilters will tell you that you can not get the same quality results with a machine as you can if you sew by hand. When sewing by hand your stitches should be very small, uniform, and barely discernible. It actually takes a great deal of talent and a steady hand to end up with a quilt the likes of which generations of housewives made in the past.

Thirdly, quilting is rarely handed down from generation to generation these days, but thanks to sewing and quilting classes, this art form is still persevering. Quilts make personal, thoughtful gifts filled with love and can be customized in hundreds and thousands of ways — from the fabric to the pattern — to make them even more meaningful.

Of course there’s also the fact that they’re just pretty!

Apparently these days, pre-washing your fabric is a must, to prevent any colors/dyes from bleeding and/or shrinking when you end up washing your final product. (This was not a necessary step back in the farm days, as the fabric came from cloth that had already been well-worn and washed multiple times.)

When my grandmother made her quilts, she would “piece” together all her quilt “blocks” (the pieces sewn together into the design the quilt would eventually have) and then attach the batting and backing with pins. All of this would be rolled onto a quilting frame which looking back reminds me of two saw-horses with blanket-wide rollers between them. These are heavy duty, take up a lot of space, and don’t seem that easy to find these days. One of the last times I saw one in use was during a country-themed Vacation Bible School several years ago when the grandmothers of the church dressed in costume and had an actual quilting party during the VBS sessions.

(And yes, if you hadn’t already learned how to quilt from a mother or grandmother, the quilting party was the perfect place to learn. Quilts take a lot of work and the more hands you have, the sooner it will be finished!)

The quilt was then “quilted” with the pattern of stitches preferred in order to hold together the layers.

Of course I’m talking about the type of quilt that has a uniform pattern from one end to the other and sometimes even has a pattern to the color scheme. (My family’s rule was just don’t put two matching colors next to each other.) There are also quilts that are basically functional canvases for artwork — pictures and collages. In the movie “How To Make an American Quilt” each character makes their own quilt block with a personal story that fits an overall color scheme and the pieces are fitted together and quilted into a gift for a bride (pictured above).

These days quilts aren’t just for warmth or bed comforters. Beginning quilters will often start out making potholders or table runners to become more confident in their abilities before jumping into a larger, more time-consuming project.

And quilts don’t have to be the traditional blocked and patterned variety. Some quilts aren’t even pieced, but made from one large piece of fabric that is quilted in stitching only.

If you happen to be interested in taking up quilting, or would love to incorporate the warmth and art of a quilt into your home without the two-centuries-ago appeal, here are some ideas.

Quilts as Tablecloths

Quilt tablecloths would typically not have a thick batting in between the layers like a blanket (or even any backing at all, depending on the project) since you would want a hard, sturdy surface to put your food and drinks on.

MelanieO at A Sewing Journal featured several examples in her blog post “Inspired by: Quilts as Tablecloths.”

Quilts as Tablecloths by MelanieO - A Sewing Journal

Quilts as Tablecloths by MelanieO – A Sewing Journal

If you wanted the tablecloth to double as a picnic blanket you probably would want another layer of cloth to shield you from any dampness on the ground and to protect the top/pretty layer of the blanket from being soiled from the bottom up.

(Click the picture below to learn how to make an easy, do-it-yourself Bandana Quilt Tablecloth.)

Bandana Quilt Tablecloth Tutorial

Bandana Quilt Tablecloth Tutorial from Aesthetic Nest

A quilt used as a tablecloth could easily be transformed into something that matched your home design by using blocks of fabric that coordinated with your existing color scheme. The fun part is that you can get as creative as you want or have a lot of fun shopping for just the right quilt.

Quilted Table Accessories

By the Sea Reversible Coastal Table Linens from Touch of Class

By the Sea Reversible Coastal Table Linens from Touch of Class

I think I’m in love with these quilted place mats. The advantage of having quilted place mats is that they soak up more “juice” or liquid and hold it to preserve your tablecloth. After dinner they can be tossed into the wash. They also just feel more soft and lush.

There are some amazing handmade table runners on Etsy (< click the link to see!) that demonstrate that a quilted table runner doesn’t have to be “traditional” if you don’t want it to. Here is one of my favorites:

MarveLes CITY LIGHTS Art Quilt table runner by marveles on Etsy

MarveLes CITY LIGHTS Art Quilt table runner by marveles on Etsy

Accessories for You

The amazing thing about quilts is that they can look like anything, and be made into almost anything — from a cup cozy to an electronics case to a wall mural. They are functional, insulated, and beautiful art. You can customize them any way you want to be exactly what you want.

Here is an example of Coffee Cup Cozies – perfect for when that napkin or cardboard sleeve that is supposed to wrap your paper coffee cup just isn’t doing the job. These were made by Julie Comstock, who offers her pattern on her website for free. (Click the picture below to visit it.)

Coffee Cup Cozies by Julie Comstock (Free Pattern)

Coffee Cup Cozies by Julie Comstock (Free Pattern)

If you would rather just buy yourself a cute coffee cup cozy, click here to see the variety on Etsy.

Quilt handbags and purses (of the cloth variety) have enjoyed a time in the spotlight thanks to designers like Vera Bradley. Not all quilted bags are the traditional soft and puffy blanket type, and – as charming as it might be – they don’t have to look like they’re fresh from the farm. (I love those vintage quilted leather purses from decades past!)

Check out these awesome “Laurel Burch Mermaid Bags” from DiannaInEtsy, which can be used as jewelry bags or just a pretty decoration.

Laurel Burch Mermaid Bags

Laurel Burch Mermaid Bags

Or how about this gorgeous ‘Orola’ Quilted Tote from Ted Baker London…?

Ted Baker London 'Orola' Quilted Tote

Ted Baker London
‘Orola’ Quilted Tote

Another wonderful thing about quilts is that if you have a specific design in mind and you don’t have the time or even want to sew it yourself, there are plenty of quilters out there who will be happy to do your bidding, even if for a price.

Fall Pillow by Scrappy Threads

Fall Pillow by Scrappy Threads

En-Light-ening Bottles

Pottery Barn has bottle lamps that a lot of people are falling in love with. I spotted the first bottle lamp I saw at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.

… Well, maybe not the first bottle lamp I ever saw in my life, as this is an old DIY idea that often utilizes antique jugs or wine bottles … but the first really pretty, appealing one!

The lamp and shade are just basically sitting on the bottle — at least with the Cracker Barrel version — as the light itself is attached to a cork that pulls out of the top of the bottle. It occurred to me when I saw this that you could actually fill the bottle with something like layers of colored sand, marbles, seashells, glass beads, dried flowers — anything! and just dump it all back out when you got tired of it or if you decided to change your decorating theme.

As I wandered the Internet and the halls of Pinterest, I happened to run across pictures of people making these bottle/jug lamps themselves.

This is a thing now!

I especially liked reading this blog post (< click the link) on The Concrete Cottage about how they made their lamp.

Seriously though, I feel like if you know enough about electricity to unplug an appliance before you try to fix it, and you have a Cork Stopper Lamp Kit (apparently these are available everywhere, including online!) then you can make a bottle lamp. The DIY blogs don’t even really have to spell it out.

If you would rather just buy a pretty bottle lamp and a lampshade, you have some options.

These are an example famed Pottery Barn “jug lamps.” The “Clift Glass Table Lamp Base – Clear” ranges from $120 – $170 and also comes in a green glass version.

CLIFT GLASS TABLE LAMP BASE - CLEAR

Pottery Barn actually has a variety of these “glass lamps” so be sure to browse and search if you check them out.

Here is ClarkBetty.com’s “HGTV Clear Glass Bottle Table Lamp with Cork Neck” for $138.00.

HGTV Clear Glass Bottle Table Lamp with Cork Neck

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s version (shown below) is considerably lower priced at $39.99, though not yet available on their online store. If you want to order it you can call 1-800-333-9566 and tell them you want the Glass Jug Lamp from the theme “Red.” The SKU number is 428845.

Cracker Barrel Glass Jug Lamp

Whether you buy it or make it yourself, a bottle lamp can be a subtle addition to your home or a stand-out accent piece. Use your imagination and let us know how it turns out.

Now if you can put together a ship-in-a-bottle lamp, then I’ll really be impressed!

Amazing Antlers

I saw a designer ad for a cream and blue-colored dining room with two tall, slender lucite lamps on the buffet and in the middle of the table there were two tall cylindrical flower vases and an even taller deer antler piece. The antler was fitted to a white base and was a sort-of antiqued silver/grey or at least bleached color.

There are a lot of people who take a lot of pride in their antlers. The more points, the better.

(Not all antlers are the result of hunting — some are simply scavenged. Deer do shed their antlers and deer are also prey to larger predators so sometimes a simple walk in the woods will lead to the discovery of amazing antlers.)

Outdoorsmen and hunters love to display their antlers, which they collect like trophies. The idea of a leather man-cave comes to mind, with mounts hanging on the wall or treasured finds placed strategically across a natural stone and wood mantle.

But this designer ad got me thinking — in what ways can the natural beauty of a deer antler fit into a less bachelor-esque/bear-cave setting? How can we incorporate them into a modern theme or even other styles?

I love the idea of this Deer Antler Jewelry Stand & Display from leonasheffield. Imagine if you surrounded it with pretty jars or bottles with fresh cut flowers in them?

Deer Antler Display | leonasheffield

NEW MEXICO RUSTIC STYLE WEDDING By Maggie Lord  on  Rustic Wedding Chicfrom Lisa and Cody, Part 2 by  The Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb Gardens

Speaking of fresh cut flowers … here’s a do-it-yourself Antler Flower Display via A Subtle Revelry. (Click here for the How-To.)

DIY Antler Flower Display | A Subtle Revelry

Okay, enough with the flowers, right? (And I promise this blog isn’t all about combining antlers with plants.) I just had to show you this totally awesome Tillandsia Antler Garden (air plants!) from FalconandFinch. If you don’t like it, I’ll be amazed and dismayed!

Antler Air Garden | FalconandFinch

Another nice idea is displaying your antlers under a glass dome, as seen at this DIY wedding by Wednesday Inc. on Ruffled. (Photographed by EE Photography.)

Antlers Under Glass Dome | Wednesday | Ruffled

You can buy glass domes on Amazon.com, at Hobby Lobby, or at similar stores.

How about if you just want a pop of quirky color in your room? Think paint. Check out these awesome antlers!

Aqua Resin Antlers | 2CountryChics Dressing Room w/ Antlers

Okay, so the antlers on the left are actually resin but they are meant to inspire you! They come in a variety of colors from 2CountryChics on Etsy.  I found the picture of the dressing room with the antler chandelier on Houzz but I have no idea where it originally came from.

Another use for many-pointed antlers — whether real or faux, painted or natural — is a jewelry holder, key hook, or even coat rack (assuming you have a strong way to mount them to your wall).

Here are Shed Hunting Wall Hooks from Huset.

Shed Hunting Wall Hooks | Huset

LucyHaus suggests using the colored deer antlers to hang jewelry, scarves or mugs.

Faux Deer Antler Rack Mint | LucyHaus Faux Deer Antler Rack White | LucyHaus Faux Deer Antler Rack Black | LucyHaus

A Beautiful Mess posted a DIY guide to making this Floral Antlers Necklace Display. (Click here to see how they did it.)

Floral Antlers Necklace Display | A Beautiful Mess

I also loved these curtain tie-backs that were a good, practical, subtle use for antlers, especially in (but not limited to) a country setting.

Antler Tie Backs Antler Curtain Tie Back | UpscaleDownhome

The antler on the left was posted by Shelter. The one on the right is from UpscaleDownhome. These are mounted to the wall and if you would like to see how that works you can view this item on the shop by clicking here.

They would actually look great with an antler basket. This one is available from McGregorCustomInlay but you could also make one with a basket that did not have a handle — which you could probably find at a craft supply store or from your local basket-makers.

Antler Hen Basket | McGregorCustomInlay

Of course another option if you love the rustic look of antlers but don’t want them actually hanging out in your house is … wall art! If you are a friend or family to an outdoorsman and you have an artistic flair, take a well-composed picture of the antlers and frame it for posterity.

If you are interested in the fine art of antlers but would rather just buy some amazing photographs to hang on your wall, Kari Herer has some beautiful photos and illustrations. These pictures feature Antler and Magnolia No. 6935.

Antler and Magnolia No. 6935 | kariherer

Antler and Magnolia No. 6935 | kariherer

Here is a more plainspoken antler photograph from gullylux:

8x10 Fine Art Photograph - Antler Print | gullylux

Whether you plan to have actual antlers incorporated into your decor or not, this print from frenchprints would look whimsical and colorful in any room. I saw a similar print with butterflies around the antlers in a picture of a nursery. If you plant to paint some antlers or buy some colored resin antlers, you could coordinate them with the colors of these birds.

DEER ART Print With SPRING Birds On An Antique Dictionary Book Page | frenchprints

Do you have any more ideas for antlers? How have you used them? Leave a comment below to keep us inspired!